Asbestos Lawsuits Could Face Restrictions Under Senate-Passed Bill

In Debate, Dems Invoke Veterans, GOP Points To Trial Lawyers


Updated 11 a.m.: The state Senate passed this bill on a largely party line vote this morning.

The state Senate will convene Wednesday to give final OK to a bill aimed at restricting asbestos lawsuits in Wisconsin.

The plan would require people harmed by asbestos to disclose up front how many companies they plan to sue. It would also require them to go after money from an asbestos trust before they can sue for a bigger award in court. It’s being fought by some veterans groups, whose members are more apt to suffer from asbestos-related illnesses.

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Stevens Point state Sen. Julie Lassa (D) says those veterans deserve justice: “Since they were willing to put their lives on the line for us, and that because of their service they were exposed to asbestos and now are dealing with the effects of the cancer that it has caused,” Lassa said.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told Lassa that veterans were being used as a shield in this debate and that it was really trial lawyers who were fighting the plan. He pointed to their ads on late night TV.

“All you have to do is turn on your TV after 10 p.m. at night and you will be inundated with commercials that are fishing for more claimants related to asbestos.” Fitzgerald said.

Democrats used a procedural move to block a final vote on the plan Tuesday night, but Republican senators will likely approve it later Wednesday morning.